Glacier Hiking in New Zealand

Heli Hike on Fox Glacier Photo taken by: Fergal Maher (Flying Kiwi Traveller)

Glacier Hiking in New Zealand

One of the most stunning natural wonders of New Zealand has to be the Glaciers and Glacier hiking is top on the list for many visitors.

There are two main ones to choose from - Fox or Franz Josef and Flying Kiwi takes you to Franz Josef. Here we have information for you about Franz Josef Glacier...

This staggering beautiful work of nature is 12 kilometres and descends from the Southern Alps to less than 300 metres above sea level. If you want to walk on the glacier you can do a Guided Heli Hike or Guided Heli Ice Climb. There is the option to walk to the base of the glacier at no charge or alternatively do the Guided Valley Walk and learn as you go. 

NZ's West Coast glaciers are unique and are probably the most accessible glaciers in the world, as they terminate amongst temperate rainforest just 250 metres above sea level. Nowhere else does this happen! Glaciers constantly advance and retreat, held in the delicate balance by the accumulation of snow gained in the upper glacier and ice melting in the lower part. An increase in snowfall at the neve will result in the glacier advancing. Correspondingly, a faster melt will result in the glacier retreating. 

Guided Heli Hike - From $485

The fly-in, fly-out heli-hike combines the excitement of walking on the Franz Josef Glacier with the thrill of helicopter flights. By flying in you are able to access and explore a part of the glacier where its forces work hardest and often create spectacular ice caves and arches.

Equipped with leather boots and other equipment, you board the helicopter for your first flight over the pinnacles of the lower icefall. Here, the ice is in constant motion. You then circle the upper icefall and past Victoria Falls before landing.

Your landing site on the ice is a remote and exceptionally beautiful part of the glacier. At this stage, your guide outfits you with crampons, specially designed for these ice conditions and you follow the ice steps cut by your guide as you explore the amazing formations and ice caves which are only seen here.

Each departure is a true voyage of exploration. There are so many changing features that the guides always find something new. Weather permitting, ice time is up to 2 hours.

  • Fitness level required: low to moderate
  • Trip Duration: 3 - 3.5 hours